Traditional Stuffed Cabbage

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stuffed cabbage

This traditional family recipe is the real deal – close your eyes as you take a bite and you’ll be sit- ting with Bubby in the Catskills!

TIP: Use a grate underneath the cabbage leaves on the bottom of the pot to prevent any chance of scorching or burning. 

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings

Ingredients

  • 2- 3 large heads of cabbage 

Filling

  • 2 pounds chopped meat 
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup white sugar 
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 
  • ¼ cup matzah meal 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1½ cups cooked rice

Sauce

  • 1 (32-ounce) can (or 4 cups) tomato sauce 
  • 2½ cups water 
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 large onion, sliced 
  • 2½ cups brown sugar 
  • 1 cup raisins, divided 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon) 

Preparation

1. Cut out the cabbage’s hard core, about 3 inches deep. 

2. Boil heads of cabbage until leaves begin to come apart, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from water and set aside to cool. 

3. Combine all filling ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Mixture must be firm enough to hold together as balls. 

4. When cabbage is cool enough to handle, take apart cabbage leaves, separating each whole leaf from the head. 

5. Put about 1-2 tablespoons of meat mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf, fold in the sides and roll up like an envelope. 

6. Pile rolled stuffed cabbages on a large plate.

7. Place extra unusable cabbage leaves (i.e. any ripped or tough ones) flat on the bottom of the pot to prevent any sticking during the cooking. 

8. Add two cups of the tomato sauce, water, crushed tomatoes, large sliced onion, 1 ¾ cups of brown sugar, ½ cup of raisins, and the lemon juice. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. 

9. Add rolls of cabbage in layers, fitting them close together. 

10. When half of the cabbage rolls have been put into the pot, add 1/4 cup raisins, remaining two cups of tomato sauce and 2/3 cup brown sugar. 

11. Place remaining cabbage rolls in pot, add the remaining 1/4 cup of raisins. Sprinkle remaining 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar. Cover with some leftover plain cabbage, and reduce heat to maintain simmer. 

12. Simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours. Gently shake pot from side to side every 20-25 minutes so nothing sticks and to allow the sauce to rise up. Taste sauce, adjusting seasonings with additional salt, pepper, lemon juice, or brown sugar as needed to create sweet and sour balance.   

13. Allow cooked cabbages to cool and then carefully remove from pot and separate for serving. 

SAUCE SHORTCUT: 

Combine a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, a 40-ounce jar of sweet & sour duck sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar and 1 pound beef bones (optional). Bring to a simmer and add stuffed cabbage bundles. Cook, covered for 3 hours.